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Solar panel installation up substantially in 2013

Posted: January 8, 2014 6:09 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2014 6:09 p.m.

In this Signal file photo, workmen install some of 202 solar panels on the roof of the new Newhall County Water District Administration building.

The number of solar permits issued in Santa Clarita soared to more than 1,100 in 2013, almost double the number issued the year before, according to figures from the city.

The number of permits issued to install photovoltaic, or solar, systems in Santa Clarita totaled 1,128 in 2013, according to the city.

That number is a 94 percent increase from 2012, when 581 such permits were issued. Since 2007 the number of solar projects in the city has increased by more than 5,000 percent.

Solar permit activity was so great last year that it accounted for about one-third of the total building permits issued by the city’s Building and Safety division, according to Bill Read, assistant building official with the city.

“It’s becoming a very large part of our operation here in Building and Safety, both from a standpoint of issuing the permits and the area of providing the inspections of those installations,” Read said Wednesday.

But these numbers only paint part of the solar picture in Santa Clarita, Read said, as the number of permits issued relates only to panels that are installed on existing residences or businesses, not the ones that are being installed on new tract homes.

New homes that come with built-in solar panels are increasingly commonplace under state guidelines mandating buildings be constructed in a way that reduces their carbon footprint, Read said.

“Probably within the next few years virtually everything that will be built housing-wise will be equipped with photovoltaic systems or some other means of producing electricity,” Read said.

Read said he expects solar panels to remain a popular fixture in the city, since Santa Clarita is well-suited for them.

This is because of the regular sunshine the Santa Clarita Valley receives, as well as the fact that homes are less dense and more spread out, allowing more residences to receive the sunlight necessary for the panels to operate efficiently, Read said.
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